11 beheaded in attack on Libya checkpoint; Daesh blamed

Libyan militia commander General Khalifa Haftar. (AP)
Updated 23 August 2017
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11 beheaded in attack on Libya checkpoint; Daesh blamed

BENGHAZI: At least 11 people were beheaded Wednesday after an attack on a checkpoint controlled by Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar south of Tripoli, a spokesman for his forces said.
“At least nine soldiers were beheaded... in addition to two civilians” at the checkpoint about 500 km (300 miles) south of Tripoli, Col. Ahmad Al-Mesmari said, blaming Daesh for the gruesome attack.
No group has yet claimed the dawn attack in the Al-Jufra region.
Libya has been rocked by chaos since the 2011 fall and killing of long-time dictator Muammar Qaddafi in a NATO-backed revolution.
Extremists, arms dealers and human traffickers have gained a foothold there as multiple authorities and dozens of militias vie for power.
Forces allied with the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) drove Daesh militants from their stronghold of Sirte on the Mediterranean coast in December.
The head of the GNA underlined that the battle against Islamist rebels was not over, and Daesh has claimed very few attacks in Libya since.
Armed groups are continuing to hunt down members of the group who fled Sirte as the city fell. But analysts and military sources say the group remains active in Libya, particularly the desert south, where the GNA holds little sway.
Haftar, who backs a rival administration that refuses to recognize the GNA, controls much of the country’s vast southern desert.
His self-proclaimed Libyan National Army in May seized the Tamenhant base near the southern city of Sebha after driving out a pro-GNA militia.
The following month, they seized Al-Jufra, including a key military air base, from the Benghazi Defense Brigades, a coalition that includes Islamists driven out of Libya’s second city by pro-Haftar forces.
That placed the strongman in control of all the major cities and military bases in southern Libya.
Also in July, Haftar announced the “total liberation” of Benghazi, three years after he launched a military operation to seize the city.
But clashes have continued in the city, a bastion of the 2011 uprising that later fell to militants. Forces loyal to Haftar regularly blame attacks against them on Daesh, particularly in Benghazi.


US-backed Syria rebels seize Captagon in IS drug bust: coalition

Updated 2 min 43 sec ago
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US-backed Syria rebels seize Captagon in IS drug bust: coalition

BEIRUT: Syrian rebels backed by the US-led coalition have seized a massive drug stash worth around $1.4 million during operations against the Daesh group, the alliance said Monday.
Maghawir Al-Thawra, a rebel faction trained by both the United States and Jordan, captured and destroyed the narcotics on May 31 in southeast Syria, the coalition said in a statement.
The drugs were estimated to have a black market value of around $1.4 million (1.2 million euros).
“The cache included more than 300,000 pills of Captagon, an illegal drug frequently trafficked and used by Daesh members,” it said, using the Arabic acronym for IS.
They were seized during Maghawir Al-Thawra’s operations surrounding the Al-Tanf base, which lies along Syria’s border with Jordan.
Captagon is classified by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime as an “amphetamine-type stimulant” and usually blends amphetamines, caffeine and other substances.
It is often referred to as the “jihadist” drug, as fighters who take it say it helps them stay awake for days and that it numbs their senses, allowing them to kill with abandon.
For at least two years, British and US commandos have been training and advising rebels fighting IS from Al-Tanf.
A 55-kilometer (34 mile) de-confliction zone around the garrison is meant to serve as a buffer between US-backed forces and fighters loyal to Syria’s regime.
The US-led coalition said the seizure of the drugs happened within the zone.
Maghawir Al-Thawra announced the drug bust last week in a dramatic video published on its Facebook page.
It included stills of dozens of plastic bags filled with yellow and white pills, which were later shown being set on fire.